Snowdonia is a unique worker placement game with a railroad theme and a built-in auto mechanic that lets you not only play with players but also play against the game itself. It’s a competition between who can excavate the most rubble, lay railroad tracks, build stations and fulfill contracts.
Each player starts with two labor pawns. They send each to do one of seven different tasks.
• Take Resources from the stockyard (Iron, Stone, or Coal)
• Excavate (Rubble)
• Convert Resources
• Lay Track
• Build part of Stations or get a Train
• Pick a Contract
• Move the Surveyor
Every round lets you take at least two actions unless you have a train that gives you the ability to add another labor pawn (you can have an extra pawn as long as you have a coal to provide for it each round). This part gives you quite the tight decisions to make (almost like it is in Agricola). Each round the stockyard is filled with new resource cubes (depending on how many players there are) and if a white cube is pulled out of the draw bag, this is where the built-in auto mechanic comes into play through the Event Track. For every white cube that is drawn out, the actions on the event track are resolved consecutively. At the end of every round, you check for weather which effects the gameplay of whether you can excavate or lay track, and how many of those excavate/lay track actions you can do during your next turn. You try to collect rubble, lay track and fulfill contracts; any completions on the tracks and stations are signified by placing your ownership markers on them. This continues on till either the last track is laid, or in a solo or 2-player, the last ownership marker placed.
The theme goes very well with the mechanics. If you like the train/railroad theme or even just that feeling you get when you get to feel like you’re in the game, and be a part of the game, laboring to construct the railways of Snowdonia, this is a great game to pick up. The built-in auto mechanic through the event track and weather checks, I believe are the main foundation of the game because without it, the game would seem dull and too easy. With this mechanic, it makes the game more challenging.
Not only is the theme and mechanic great, but as with most games I like, this game offers multiple objectives to gain the most points and win the game. So each game, you can try which way works best for you.
This game is also great to play solo. I’m not a huge fan of solo play, but when I had moved into a new town, I didn’t really know anyone and had no one to play with, and my husband was away, this game actually turned out to be quite fun.
The components are just average. The game literally just comes in a designed cover box and no insert. The rulebook is easy to read and understand. There’s nothing too great to brag about with the components. You’re really just left with plain pawns, cubes and discs of different colors and some plain looking cards. Probably the only interesting component is the train first player marker. If you like to spice it up a little, I think they sell little miniatures of the labor workers on the BGG store. Other than that, you may just have to live with bags or put a plano box in the box.
Honestly, when I first saw this game it did not interest me. It looked rather boring with its bland colors. But now, I can’t really blame the game for that because the theme somewhat calls for it. Snowdonia is about building a railway through the summit of Snowdon mountain and you have to build it before you get wrapped up in its misty peak where everything is barely visible. That being said, I’m not sure if there would be a better way to represent the bland look of this game. I primarily bought this game out of desperation to play when I was by myself. This was the recommended game by most board gamers so I decided to jump in the bandwagon.
After playing, I got over the dull look since the game turned out to be better than I had expected.
Another minor complaint I have, since you have to randomly draw out of the bag, sometimes the white cubes can be overwhelming, and sometimes frustrating if you keep drawing them out. But I look at that as if I’m just playing on a difficult game level. As a variant, you could try playing with less white cubes if it gets too difficult, but that’s no more difficult than having to go against other players.
The game can be a different set up each time. There are alternative actions cards provided depending on how many players are playing. Each track point card is laid out randomly offering different points in between stations. Sometimes it does make a difference because timing is also a strategy to take into consideration when playing – when to excavate, lay track or build a part of a station.
The game also comes with different train cards. Each train gives you a certain ability. You can try different trains each time you play. The contract cards come out randomly and the last card to the left is taken away each round so if you’re eying a card there, it’ll be too late to obtain the next round. The changes in weather are also random. You only get to foresee the weather three turns ahead. It may seem like a lot of randomness but it’s really not as bad as some might think – those who hate random elements in a game. It makes the strategic aspect of the game more fun and challenging.
Overall, if you can get past the bland look, this game really has a lot to offer with its unique and challenging mechanic; and during gameplay, you really do feel like you’re working to build a railway towards the summit.